Next up: Cleaning and insurance claims
With 2019’s floods causing significant damage across the region, cleaning up and assessing the damage will be a major undertaking for many. Officials suggest the following tips:
Get and use all recommended protective gear; avoiding skin contact with water and wet materials is essential. Gloves, boots and goggles are needed; even after the surfaces have dried out, they can still contain bacteria and mould which can cause infections.
Keep children and pets away from all contaminated areas and ventilate all rooms by opening doors and windows, using fans, during the cleaning process to help dry surfaces and eliminate odours.
The city says no one should live in a house where there has been standing water. Anyone in these circumstances should contact the city by calling 311, line 6. Register with the Red Cross at various help-stations, and check for support resources on the city’s website, Gatineau.ca.
What to throw away?
All absorbent materials – drywall, plasterboard, mineral wool, carpet and pressed wood, mattresses, pillows and any toys made with fabric, books, clothing – should be discarded as these items cannot be dried quickly enough or cleaned thoroughly enough to eliminate the risk of bacterial contamination.
Edibles – food, medicines – plus cosmetics and toiletries exposed to contaminated water must be discarded. Sealed foods, such as cans and bottles, can be kept provided they are washed and disinfected.
What to clean and How
It’s important to clean and disinfect all surfaces, even those that have not been in direct contact with water. This can be done with a common cleaner, but it is recommended that all surfaces be disinfected with a bleach solution (half a cup of 5% concentrated bleach in 2 gallons of water).
Quickly dry everything you can, and check for mould, but wait until all cavities have time to dry before being closed. All kitchen items and utensils should be sterilized with boiling water.
Flooded books and papers can be frozen to extend their life, if necessary. For valuable books and documents, freeze them in plastic bags. If the pages are extremely wet, do not touch them, to give the best chance for a restorer to save them. If the pages are only damp, but can still be turned without tearing, inserting a layer of wax paper between the pages before freezing will be helpful in the restoration process.
It’s absolutely necessary to take the time required to prepare a catalogue of photos and videos of your goods and property in order to facilitate insurance claims and possible deductions. Photograph everything. Keep a record of all flood expenses and ask your insurer about all the requirements you will need – before submitting your claim.
It is wise not to delay and report the total damage to your property to both your insurance company and your municipality’s office. Most municipal offices have advice sheets, and the Red Cross is ready to help at multiple locations.